Michael Avenatti says he’s the “street fighter” Democrats need if they’re going to win the White House in 2020.
Avenatti, a lawyer who has become a household name — or at least has sought to become one — with his media appearances representing adult-film star Stormy Daniels, says he’s “giving serious thought” to running for president.
He says he’s skeptical that the politicians now seen as likely contenders in the 2020 presidential race can beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE.
The Democratic Party needs “a street fighter … someone that can give as good as they take,” he said.
“Let us remember that Donald Trump beat 16 very experienced politicians on his way to the White House — governors, senators, members of the House — and he also beat the most qualified candidate in the history of the United States, in my view, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE,” Avenatti said in an interview with The Hill on Wednesday.
“I’ve been fighting on behalf of David versus Goliaths. I have dealt with complex legal matters, assembled teams of people to successfully prosecute those cases, and I’m also smart enough to know what I don’t know and smart enough to surround myself with quality people. I’m smarter because I take their advice.”
It’s hard to tell how serious Avenatti is about running for higher office.
He’s never held political office before and has built a name for himself by becoming a ubiquitous presence on cable news, where he has won new supporters with blistering attacks on Trump.
Avenatti now boasts more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, more than a fair share of U.S. senators — including some seen as long-shot presidential candidates.
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But that’s far fewer than former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and others seen as the Democratic Party’s top-tier candidates. Those politicians also have proven fundraising abilities, policy chops and a sense of gravitas that someone like Avenatti, to this point, cannot match.
“He appears to be a talented lawyer, but what is he going to offer the American people as a candidate?” said Basil Smikle, a Democratic strategist. “What will he do for black youth, the economically depressed? Haven’t we learned that some track record is important? Our grand experiment with thinking out of the box should be over.”
On some level, the fact that Avenatti is even talking about a presidential run is a sign of how Democrats are searching and searching for the perfect candidate to take on Trump. Oprah Winfrey briefly became a contender after a rousing speech at the 2017 Golden Globes Awards.
The party is debating whether they need a fighter, a fresh face or someone who voters will want to have a beer with.
A Rasmussen poll out this week said 73 percent of Democrats surveyed said they want a fresh face as the 2020 nominee. Sixteen percent said the party should nominate a candidate who has run in the past.
Avenatti, 47, says he’s been consulting experts over the last couple of months about the idea of competing for the Democratic nomination.
“I’m talking to a lot of folks, seeking advice and listening to a lot of people who know about the process more than I do,” Avenatti said.
On Tuesday night, he spoke before a crowd of several hundred people in Lafayette Park outside the White House who were there to rail against Trump. The protest was put together with the help of Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, and Adam Parkhomenko, who co-founded the super PAC Ready For Hillary.
“I’m being asked to participate in those types of events and I’m honored,” Avenatti said.
One Democratic strategist speaking on background discounted the idea of an Avenatti candidacy.
“Let’s be a little realistic here,” the strategist said.
Then the strategist, noting Trump’s surprise run to the White House, had a second thought.
“I guess after 2016, one could say never say never.”